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Amateur Certification Programs

The Northwest Paleontological Association (NPA), a partnering of Northwest
amateur and Univ. of Washington academic paleontologists, has accepted my
recommendation to investigate existing certification programs offered by
institutions in the US in anticipation of developing one for our
organization.  This posting is intended to gather preliminary contact
information and synopsis of existing program structure.

The NPA's mission is: To advance the science of paleontology; to explore,
understand and preserve the paleontological heritage of Washington State and
the Pacific Northwest; to support the collaborative efforts of amateur and
professional paleontologists; and to provide education for the community.

By developing the amateur's skill and knowledge sophistication, increasing
contribution of scientific value is anticipated.  Given the paucity of
funding for paleontological research, using volunteer (free) labor and
knowledge can significantly free the academic professional from having to
perform much of the 'grunt' work.  By 'grunt work' I mean much of the
preliminary research, location of site(s), development of sites, mapping and
surveying sites, and extraction of appropriate fossils.  The synergy of
combining amateur enthusiasm with academic perspicacity can and has resulted
in very significant contributions to the science.

Unlike many regions in the country, the Pacific Northwest is quite
unrelenting in hiding its paleontological record under Quaternary glacials
and ubiquitous vegetation.  Field exploration is constantly being performed
by citizens traveling the logging roads and trails of the state, but rarely
reported to the scientific instituitions.  Paleontology is not the only
issue at stake here, for perhaps on a larger scale, elucidation of past
tectonic events will result.

I welcome information regarding people to contact, programs in existence,
programs in developement, and general comments from the professional
community on their views of partnering amateurs with their research.  I
would prefer personal email responses if the information has no significance
to the other list-members.


Michael "We're not in Kansas anymore" Sternberg
Amateur paleontologist and natural historian
(360) 293-2405 if it's about fossils

Cascadia - A PaleoHomePage 
at http://www.cnw.com/~mstern/